By Mary Willson
Fort Collins Music Association (FoCoMA) presents the 5th annual Fort Collins Music Experiment (FoCoMX) brought to you by Odell Brewing Company, from April 19-20 in downtown Fort Collins.
The Fort Collins Music Experiment (FoCoMX) has grown into a full-fledge music showcase in only five years, encompassing 24 venues and 241 artists. With the community backing this volunteer run, citywide festival, it is safe to say this music experiment is a successful one.
“It’s a huge milestone for us to be able to keep the festival sustainable for five years, especially since the event is one hundred percent volunteer powered. Year one was a completely grassroots project out of our living rooms,” said Greta Cornett, co-creator of the event said.
Cornett explained that FoCoMX sprang into life after FoCoMA started Peer Awards, as a way to recognize local musicians, yet feedback from the community highlighted a need for a community-wide local music showcase.
“It got our wheels turning to have a weekend before the next year’s Peer Awards that showcased different genres at a few of the venues and give musicians a chance to play together and check out other artists. It received a lot of support from the community and hence FoCoMX was born,” Cornett said.
The first FoCoMX showcased 107 artists, and now, four years later, 241 artists will be taking stages at 24 venues, over two days. Yet, through the overwhelming community support, the festival has grown to such huge numbers that the organizers have decided to manage the events size in order to ensure success for everyone involved.
“We have a lot more systems in place to record the things that work and the things that don’t and to hopefully keep the festival sustainable and able to move forward for many years to come,” Cornett said.
“Last year’s festival was great, but the sheer number of volunteers needed to cover all the shifts for all the venues was pretty insane, and managing them was just a huge job as usual,” said Kevin Micke, Vice President and Treasurer of the event. “This year we’re going to be more lean, but still have a huge range of styles and experience levels.”
Throughout the years, the festival has grown from a music experiment, to a full-fledged community event, powered by volunteers and donors, in order to support community involvement and local musicians.
“When you get to the nuts and bolts of FoCoMX and FoCoMX, what were all about is supporting the local musicians and he local community. All the money we make with the festival, we give back to the musicians that play, which supports our mission of supporting the musicians,” Danielle Hastings, marketing and volunteer coordinator. “Of course the musicians are such an important part of the festival, but the volunteers are really the heart and soul of the festivals. It’s really cool to see the community get together to help out. Fort Collins is such a great community who all want to come together to volunteer.”
Volunteers that work a normal four-hour shift receive a wristband to the event and a tee shirt, and duties range from MC’s at shows, to door attendants and everything in-between. Volunteers fuel the event, double as fans, and show how supportive Fort Collins really is.
“When you think of all of the wonderful things that our city has to offer, it really is a unique and quirky kind of culture. It’s also very accepting of new things and changes. Our music scene is also extremely unique and quirky,” Cornett said. “There truly is something for everyone in our local scene and our musicians are so supportive of each other. It makes this kind of event work.”
“We want Fort Collins to be recognized on a national and local level as a music hub,” Cornett said. “It’s a great place for musicians to live and create music. It’s a place you want to visit to see great live and local music.”
With so many pieces to fit together to create a successful event, organizers understand that the true success comes through the support and passion of Fort Collins.
Odell Brewing Company has been involved with FoCoMX since the start, and is a presenting sponsor this year. In addition, Go West is partnering up with the event, ensuring that all the volunteers receive a tee shirt.
“We really wanted to include Odell’s in a big way because they have really been a support since day one,” Hastings said.
FoCoMX will also offer child programming, day programs, musician sessions Saturday day, and more convenient public transportation.
“We have definitely learned many lessons each year that we try to carry over to the next year’s event,” Cornett said. “Music kicks off on Friday afternoon with Michael Kirkpatrick at Equinox Brewery and it doesn’t stop until bar close on Saturday night. There is daytime programming, musicians workshops and education panels, kids programming, there really is something for everyone.”
Colorado is currently known as a breakout for new music, and with so many artists and talent, a new band, artist or venue could be in your backyard without knowing it. Check out FoCoMX, and see for yourself.
As a festival that is 100% volunteer driven, and with dozens of ways to get involved, spending time giving back to the local music community has become easy, and fun thanks to FoCoMX. You can sign up on the website, focomx.org.